This is the first John Cassavetes movie that could seriously be contemplated in terms of a possible TV series spinoff: the continuing adventures of a crusty but tender-hearted retired gun moll and a spunky but vulnerable Puerto Rican orphan in their relentless private war against the New York criminal syndicate (suggested alternate titles: Chico and the Moll, Lady and the Scamp, You and Me Against the Underworld). Nothing in the ferocious opening scene would warrant this response. The unusual, to put it mildly, casting of Buck Henry as the paterfamilias of a boisterous Puerto Rican household, which includes a wife for him who approaches bombshell status, and a resultant performance by him that is virtually indistinguishable from actual, plausible, normal human behavior and that thoroughly wipes his usual facetiousness off his face — this by itself would be enough to hold our attention throughout the opening. But besides that, there is the added interest of watching a scene that Cassavetes seems conscientiously to have directed and not to have just let happen. Thereafter, amorphousness prevails, and any chance for suspense or sentiment is prematurely snuffed out by Bill Conti's musical score, unfailingly jumping the gun and churning up such a premonitory storm of emotion that, when the anticipated climax finally arrives, there is no way it can live up to the musical forecast. With Gena Rowlands. (1980) — Duncan Shepherd
This movie is not currently in theaters.